Is people telling you “it doesn’t translate” all the time! I’m in my second college Spanish class right now. I’m a non-traditional student and I’m not taking it because I have a foreign language requirement or I just need the credits or whatever. I’m taking it because I want to learn Spanish. There are a million examples of this but the one that came up today was this: We were talking about lo siento and I asked what it meant literally. The professor kept telling me it meant I’m sorry, etc. I said I know what it means figuratively, I want to know what it means literally.
“It doesn’t translate. It doesn’t translate.”
Yes it does. They aren’t just meaningless words. They are put together for a reason. We had just learned sentir, so I said siento is “I feel”, what is the “lo” referring to? Finally I coaxed it out of her that it’s “I feel it”, which made perfect sense to me. It might not translate to something we would say, but it absolutely translates to something we can understand.
I’m sure there are plenty of phrases that produce confusing translations. Someone in another thread recently pointed out how difficult it would be to translate “badass” literally from English. But every phrase I’ve come across so far and been told it doesn’t translate - it turns out it actually does.
I get so tired of hearing “It doesn’t translate. It’s idiomatic. It doesn’t translate.” Yes it does! Just tell me what it means and that will give me so much better an understanding! I don’t like using words haphazardly without knowing what they mean.